Woman trying to stop bear hunters unleashes dog, and an attack ensued, VT officials say

National Park Service

Two women were trying to stop bear hunters before one unleashed a German shepherd – and an attack ensued, according to Vermont wildlife officials.

The loose dog attacked one of the hunters’ leashed hounds, causing injuries that needed veterinary care, officials said.

After an investigation of “hunter harassment,” Donna Babic and Betty Eastman “were found guilty of interfering” with the three hunters on Nov. 22, the state’s Fish & Wildlife Department announced in a Dec. 14 news release.

“I would ask that Vermonters respect one another’s constitutional right to hunt,” Col. Jason Batchelder, Fish and Wildlife’s chief game warden, said in a statement.

A hunter and two others were using hounds to hunt black bears in Groton State Forest with one bear leading “the hounds onto private property before climbing a tree” on Oct. 9, the release said.

They left the bear alone, rounded up the hounds and headed back to the hunter’s truck, where they found Babic and Eastman letting air out of his tires, officials said.

The two women, both of Groton, argued with the hunters, and that’s when one let the German shepherd out of her car, leading to the hound’s attack, according to the release.

The private property was not owned by Babic and Eastman, who are opposed to hunting bears with hounds, Batchelder told McClatchy News.

They believed the hunters were illegally trespassing and let air out of the truck’s tires “so the hunters would not leave” and police would catch them, Batchelder said.

An investigation by a state game warden “found the licensed and permitted bear hunters to be acting lawfully,” the release noted.

A state police spokesperson, Adam Silverman, confirmed the private property was owned by a third party.

“Vermonters don’t always agree on wildlife management, especially when it comes to big game,” Batchelder said in a statement. “Intentionally interfering with legal hunters in any fashion will result in court action, especially in a potentially dangerous fashion as we saw in this case.”

The two women “were each fined $262 and will lose their license privileges for fishing, hunting and trapping for a year,” according to the release.

“So many Vermonters oppose hounding and for various reasons, including the inherent cruelty to animals, the unavoidable violation of landowners’ rights, and conflicts with other recreational activities, but we never condone acting unlawfully,” nonprofit organization Protect Our Wildlife Vermont said in a Dec. 16 Facebook post.

“There are practical and sensible ways that citizens can fight hounding that include legislative efforts and using the only tool currently available to legally protect citizens: the posting law,” the post added.

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